Saturday, August 22, 2009

God and Sin

It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.

Hebrews 10:11 The Message

I know that I need perfecting, so I love this verse, this whole chapter actually. The knowledge that in the one time sacrifice of Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, God did everything that needed to be done to bring us into right relationship with him, and to keep us there!

Somehow it is easy for me to believe that my past is forgiven. That my sins were washed away. But, my imperfectness makes me prone to present-tense problems. And unfortunately, I am well aware that there are failures lurking in my future. The past? The past is under the blood. I know that. Embracing God's grace for today and tomorrow proves a bit more challenging.

I'm not the only one in the house wrestling with this. My dear 9 yr old asked me last week if he needed to invite Jesus back into his heart after he sinned. Quite a topic for tucking-in! He's just sure that Jesus must leave when he sins because God can't be around sin, right? My heart was broken for my boy and in my efforts to reassure him that God never leaves, I realized I needed reassurance myself.

I think this stems from a well-taught Sunday school lesson of some of Jesus' last words on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I remember all too well, being taught that Jesus cried out in anguish about God's absence, because in taking on all our sin, the presence of a Holy God had to flee. Back it up with Old Testament stories of the Holy of Holies and it is just so logical. When the high priest failed to follow all the purification procedures, he passed out...slain by the presence of a Holy God. When unauthorized folks touched the Ark of the Covenant, even when they were trying to be helpful, their life on earth ended. It's troubling, even for a King.

But do I really believe that God's presence and sin cannot exist in the same space?

No, honestly, I can't believe that at all. If God is indeed, by his nature, omni-present, then his presence is everywhere sin-free or sin-full. In Hebrews we read that as we are participating in the perfecting process, we enter God's presence boldly "we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into the Holy Place." This in our imperfect state, but only by the broken body of the only Perfect One. Jesus made a way for us. A way that becomes a well worn path called Repentance. This same chapter reminds us that the veil separating God's presence from the rest of our sin-stained world was torn as Jesus' body was broken on the cross. That barrier is no more.

Looking back to Jesus on the cross, I understand that Jesus may have felt forsaken. Haven't we all felt forsaken? Remember Heb 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses." He sympathizes because He knows! Jesus' words echoed David's prophecy in Psalm 22 and most of those at the foot of the cross would have known the entire Psalm...they would have heard verse 1 and remembered verse 24 "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help." God made a promise to his children: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Surely, that promise applied to his Son, Jesus. I think that in that moment, Jesus felt for the first time what we all feel when our relationship with the Father is strained by sin.

I can't believe that God abandoned Jesus on the cross. That the Father would disappear as the son became obedient to death. I believe what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself IN CHRIST. The Father and the Son are ONE! Jesus prayed in John 17:21 "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." God was right there on the cross IN CHRIST. The cross was actually a bit crowded: A Holy God, a Sinless Saviour, and every sin past present and future of every person who has or ever will draw breath.

Reading over this, I sound so confident, but I'm still wrestling. Learning is hard work, unlearning is even harder. I need to dig a little deeper. I know I don't have it all figured out and I'm well aware that my degree is in Biology...not Theology! This is simply my interpretation as I see and understand today. I AM however, confident of this:

No baby, you don't have to ask Jesus to come back into your heart. Your sin didn't scare him away, He never left you.

He will never leave you!

1 comment:

Cindy Steffan said...

Thanks Lynn for your encouragement. You are such a great mom - I can hear your voice saying "no baby". Love you! Cindy S.